For two years, Odeo teams developed a product supposed to become the best podcast hosting and promoting website worldwide. Investors, managers, teams all believed in it, the press was raving about it. But in 2005, after Apple announced the iTunes podcast platform, the company’s future was clouded.
The team split-up in work-groups trying to come up with a new strategy. The purpose was to reuse the platform technology to build new products. How to find a new product without doing marketing research and customer development?
The easiest path was to focus on products the team members needed themselves. Then create minimal, pilot versions, and try them for a couple of months to validate the interest for each one.
From all the propositions one stood out and took the spot. It was a direct communication platform between users, who could publish short ideas, share news, or subscribe to other’s feeds.
Twitter was born out of this team transition process from an existing flailing product to a new strategy.
Likewise, moving your company offices is a team transition phase. It is also a good moment to reflect on the real office space needs.
How could you use remote work in this phase to make the transition to new offices easier, and reduce the costs at the same time?
Download the “Recommended Weekly Remote Workdays Calculator (TEAM version)”
Find the optimal office surface for your team
During the search for new offices, an important criterion is the office surface, including meeting rooms, and other amenities (coffee or lunchrooms, kitchen, etc.). How to calculate this surface? One way is to use the current surface and adjust it using the real employee numbers after the move.
To do that you need to analyze the needs in terms of individual or small group offices. Here are some configuration examples to host a 10-people team:
– 3 individual offices + 3 offices for 2-3 people each + 1 bigger meeting room
– 1 individual office/meeting room + 4 offices for 2-3 people each
– 1 open-space for the whole team + 3 smaller meeting rooms
However, the number of employees being present on-site every day is not constant.
Find how many people need offices on a daily average
In OCDE countries 16,5% of employees work less than 30 hours per week (the percentage is 23% in England and 37% in the Netherlands). Parents with toddlers, senior workers with reduced work time, young people working part-time to pay their studies, there are many reasons for part-time work.
How could you lower the days where the offices are half-empty? Analyzing the weekly work schedule can show you some possible optimizations. One solution is to propose to some members come working Wednesdays, instead of Tuesdays, to get closer to the same on-site presence.
Another strategy, more radical, is to use the lowest-presence days as a base and use remote work to get the presence at the same low level the other days of the week.
Try remote work, partial or complete, before the move
What if we took the transition time as an opportunity to find the real need for on-site and remote work? Instead of replicating the current office structure and surface, propose a transition phase where employees are encouraged to work remotely all week or a couple of days, depending on their preferences and possibilities.
After a couple of months or a year, quite a few will be perfectly adapted to continue working remotely. Others will find this too difficult. And surely some jobs or types of work won’t be suited to remote work. However, this phase will allow your company to better know the real need for office space in your future location.
Depending on everyone’s roles and preferences, remote work can continue even after the move
Since the transition phase allowed you to find a better balance between on-site and remote work, you can search for more appropriate offices, normally smaller than previous ones.
Anyway, you will need to review this from time to time after the move, to make necessary adjustments where needed. Another important aspect is the office location, as the distance and access possibilities can dramatically change the members opting for remote work.
Find the best location for future offices
Calculating the daily commute duration for each employee to the possible locations, we can find who will be the most affected. Partial remote work lowers the risk to lose some of your valued employees, too tired by the commute duration. Comparing to the current situation can also reveal possible improvements case by case.
How to justify the remote work costs during the transition
Yes, remote work will represent a cost for each employee and the company. Hardware, furniture, Internet connection, are needed to work from home. And the peace of mind. For some, physical space is not available to allow working from home. For others, the physical presence of other people, colleagues, or customers, is too important.
The goal of the transition phase is to know these costs and the roles and people that won’t be working from home, for one reason or another. Some tools, such as knowledge sharing and video conference solutions, would have been needed in any company evolution scenario.
Renting a big space and penalizing some of the employees, or multiple smaller and more accessible offices
There are quite a few examples in the press where an administration moved their offices to a new location, penalizing many of their employees in the process. Some have to change roles or quit, others have to work remotely at least a couple of days each week to be able to continue.
An alternative strategy is passing through a transition phase and audit the real need of office presence, complemented with searching for smaller satellite offices and coworking spaces to ease the access for distant groups of employees.
Before an office move, remote work can clarify the real needs in terms of office space and location of the future offices.
Developed between 2005 and 2006, Twitter didn’t really take off until the San Francisco earthquake of august 2006, when it proved to be the right solution to follow the event while it happened.
Download the “Recommended Weekly Remote Workdays Calculator”